Home Care for Your Tongue and Soft Tissue


Home Care for Your Tongue and Soft Tissue

I recently saw a news article about “Black Hairy Tongue.” Yes, that is a thing. If you want to read the article click here. And while this is not common, it is a great reminder to brush more than just your teeth. A general trouble zone for many people is the area where the tooth and gums meet. Plaque likes to collect there and this leads to demineralization of the enamel and ultimately a cavity. I sometimes refer to these cavities as “ring around the collar” cavities because they can circle the whole neck of the tooth. The point here is that if your toothbrush bristles are not getting on your gums you are not doing it right. Also, I often see plaque on soft tissue. This too is a sign that you have room for improvement.

For years I have used “The Tongue Cleaner.” I purchased it about 10 years ago and it broke last year. When I had to replace it I looked online. You can find it on Amazon with solid reviews. It is a cost effective tool (about $6) to aid in the removal of debris, bacteria and dead cells that get lodged between the enlarged and sometimes inflamed papillae. This can also help remove a source of bad breath.

Recently, Phillips Soniccare came out with a product, “TongueCare+.” I will give a full review soon but I have been trying it for the past two weeks. It does require a Sonicare toothbrush so when that is considered, it costs much more. However, if you already have the Sonicare brush this setup is about $15. Like I said, look for a full review of this product soon.

Smile More,

Matthew Palomaki, DDS




Sedation Dentistry

Does the thought of having your teeth cleaned make your entire body tense with fear? Would you rather endure the agony of a tooth ache than step foot in a dentist's office? You're not alone. A lot of people are so phobic about going to the dentist that they prefer not to have any treatment.

For people who avoid dentists like the plague, sedation dentistry may take away most of their anxiety. Sedation can be used for a variety of dental procedures. How it's used depends on the severity of the fear.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to help patients relax during dental procedures. It's sometimes referred to as "sleep dentistry," although that's not entirely accurate. Patients are usually awake with the exception of those who are under general anesthesia.

The levels of sedation used include:

  • Minimal sedation -- you are awake but relaxed.
  • Moderate sedation (formerly called "conscious sedation") -- you may slur your words when speaking and not remember much of the procedure.
  • Deep sedation -- you are on the edge of consciousness but can still be awakened.
  • General anesthesia -- you are completely unconscious.

What Types of Sedation Are Used at Alpha Dental?

The following types of sedation are used in dentistry:

  • Inhaled minimal sedation. You breathe nitrous oxide -- otherwise known as "laughing gas" -- combined with oxygen through a mask that's placed over your nose. The gas helps you relax. Your dentist can control the amount of sedation you receive, and the gas tends to wear off quickly. This is the only form of sedation where you may be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.
  • Oral sedation. Depending on the total dose given, oral sedation can range from minimal to moderate. For minimal sedation, you take a pill. Typically, the pill is Halcion, which is a member of the same drug family as Valium, and it's usually taken about an hour before the procedure. The pill will make you drowsy, although you'll still be awake. A larger dose may be given to produce moderate sedation. This is the type of anesthesia most commonly associated with sedation dentistry. Some people become groggy enough from moderate oral sedation to actually fall asleep during the procedure. They usually can, though, be awakened with a gentle shake.


Benefits of Sedation Dentistry:

  • The sedative drugs help the patient to become free of stress and anxiety, reduce memory of the treatment, and make the dental appointment a much less unpleasant experience.
  • Sedation dentistry can transform dental visits to a relaxing experience, with the patient relieved from stress and fear.
  • Amnesia is one of the side effects of dental conscious sedation. After treatment, if you had been sedated, you remember very few or none of the details of the dental procedure. You will feel that the procedure lasted only a few minutes, even if it has lasted for several hours.
  • If you are reluctant to change the appearance of your smile because you are afraid or anxious about undergoing long or complicated dental procedures, sedation dentistry can make you feel comfortable during the treatment process and help you achieve a smile you can be proud of.
  • Also, because sedation dentistry addresses some of the fears that keep people from going to the dentist on a regular basis, sedation dentistry patients are more likely to receive recommended routine care. As a result, they are less likely to neglect their oral health or allow oral health problems to build to the point when drastic dental treatments become necessary.

At Alpha Dental, we understand the anxiety and feelings of trepidation, anxiety and fear that people can experience at the dentist.  Thanks to our expertise and experience we are happy to offer oral sedation dentistry as a solution.



Oral Health = Overall Health!

Your Mouth, the Gateway to Your Body - Your oral health is more important than you might realize.

 According to the Mayo Clinic, “Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease."

In addition, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and diuretics — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.

Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.”

Brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist can protect you from far more than cavities.

What conditions may be linked to oral health?

Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

·                     Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.

·                     Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.

·                     Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

·                     Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.

·                     HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.

·                     Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.

·                     Alzheimer's disease. Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.

How can I protect my oral health?

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day. For example:

·                     Brush your teeth at least twice a day.

·                     Floss daily.

·                     Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.

·                     Replace your toothbrush every three/four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.

·                     Schedule regular dental checkups.

Because of these potential links, be sure to tell us at Alpha Dental if you're taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you've had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.

Smile More,

Dr. P



Root Canal Therapy

Have you been told you that you need root canal treatment? If so, you're not alone. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal, or endodontic, treatment.

 A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth. The term "root canal" comes from cleaning of the canals inside the tooth's root.

 Causes of an infected pulp could include:

  • a deep cavity
  • repeated dental procedures
  • a cracked or broken tooth
  • injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)

Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess

How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?

During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.

Contrary to jokes about the matter, modern root canal treatment is very similar to having a routine filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.

Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:

         Efficient chewing

         Normal biting force and sensation

         Natural appearance

         Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain


Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last as long as other natural teeth and often for a lifetime.  

If you continue to care for your teeth and gums your restored tooth could last a lifetime. However, regular checkups are necessary; a tooth without its nerve can still develop cavities or gum disease.

Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile. Call Alpha Dental today with questions or to schedule treatment.

Smile More,

Dr. Palomaki



Same Day Crowns

How would you like to have a healthy and natural looking smile in a single visit? With CEREC technology we can make and replace a chipped, cracked, or damaged tooth with a CEREC Same Day Crown or “cap” restorations in one visit.

A dentist who provides Cerec, which stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, crowns is able to produce the devices right in the office. There’s no need to take a patient’s information and impressions, send those to an outside lab and then wait for weeks for the crown to be delivered to the office and ready for placement. 

 What are some of the benefits of CEREC Same Day Crowns?

  The #1 benefit is you get your new smile today! In one visit, in as little as 2 hours!

Saves you valuable time because you don’t have to miss too much work, or use up your vacation time going to multiple appointments.

No more having to wear a plastic temporary crown or fittings that are often discolored and uncomfortable to wear for 2 to 3 weeks.

Your mouth is mapped out digitally. No more ill tasting impressions!

Natural looking color-matching to your existing teeth, 17 shades available

CEREC crowns are milled from a single block of high-quality ceramic that has the same characteristics as tooth enamel.

The equipment is on-site so any necessary adjustments can be made immediately

CEREC crowns are non-invasive to the remaining healthy tooth

Less prone to cracks and flaws than other types of restoration

They have a natural feel. Smoothly polished and fitted to your exact bite.

My team and I are excited to announce we now offer CEREC crowns to our patients.  Don’t let a tight schedule keep you from getting the healthy smile you deserve!

Smile More,

Dr. Matthew Palomaki



Dental Implants

Implants – The Solution for Missing Tooth/Teeth

 Dental implants are often the best treatment for missing teeth.  When a damaged or decayed tooth is removed, both the visible part of the tooth, called the crown, and the root are lost.

A dental implant is a cylindrical and/or tapered post, usually made of titanium, that serves as a substitute for the tooth root.  A dental implant is placed in the jawbone so that it can fuse with your natural bone and become a strong and sturdy foundation for replacement teeth. Implants can be used to replace an individual tooth or for an implant-supported bridge or denture containing multiple teeth. 

Dental implants are the closest you can get to healthy, natural teeth. They will allow you to confidently eat, smile, laugh, talk, play and enjoy all of your regular activities of everyday life without thinking about your teeth.

Why are dental implants often the first choice and a standard of care compared to other options to restore missing or damaged teeth? 

  • Next best thing to healthy, natural teeth.  Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth. Other options can lead to bone deterioration, and may interfere with eating, smiling, speaking and other activities of everyday life.
  • Built to last. Dental implants are a long-term solution. Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges only last five to seven years, and with proper care often more than 10 years, but at some point they may need to be replaced. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.
  • Enjoy life without worrying about your teeth!  No need to stay home or feel uncomfortable in public, embarrassed because your smile looks different, or worrying that missing teeth will limit your ability to join in the fun or that removable dentures or tooth-supported replacement teeth will loosen or fall out when you talk, eat or laugh. Teeth restored with dental implants are teeth that let you, not your teeth, lead your life.
  • Retain your natural face shape, and smile.  A face without teeth can sag and appear sunken and sad. Dental implants allow you to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile.
  • Protect healthy bone. Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to additional health issues, such as the loss and deterioration of some of your jawbone. When it is not being used to support a natural tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, losing its strength and firmness. Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves and stimulates natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.
  • Keep your teeth in your mouth – not in a cup. Dental implants allow you to keep your teeth where they belong – in your mouth. And no more worrying that your dentures might slip or fall out. Brush, floss and care for teeth that have been replaced using dental implants exactly the way you would natural teeth – in your mouth.
  • Speak easy.  Adjusting to removable dentures can mean struggling to pronounce everyday words. Not so with dental implants, which function like natural teeth.
  • Eat your favorite foods! Taste and enjoy the foods you love without hesitation. You can bite naturally, eat virtually anything you want and, unlike removable dentures that can feel uncomfortable, you can experience the full taste of the food you eat with dental implants, too.
  • Look Mom, no cavities! Cavities can’t occur in an implant-restored crown, or replacement tooth; however, you will need to visit your dentist as scheduled and clean and care for it and your gums and mouth every day, the same as you would if it were a natural tooth.
  • Keep teeth in place – silently. Dentures may slip when you eat, talk, smile, laugh, kiss, yawn or cough, so that you have to “reposition” them back into place in the mouth. Dental implants are fixed in place and fuse naturally with your jawbone, meaning your replacement teeth won’t move, click or shift. 
  • Protect your healthy teeth. Placing a tooth-supported bridge requires grinding away the teeth on one or both sides of the missing tooth or teeth – thereby damaging healthy teeth to restore those that are missing. The modified healthy teeth are attached to, and support, the bridge. Dental implants go in the jawbone, in the spot where your missing tooth root was, without impacting healthy teeth. They also help prevent healthy, adjacent teeth from shifting as they would if an empty space were left for an extended period of time.
  • More predictable than other repair and restoration methods. Dental implant treatment has a track record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth, including bridgework, removable appliances and retreatment of failing root canal (endodontic) therapy.

We at Alpha Dental know that taking care of and maintaining your natural tooth is the best option for a healthy, functional smile. If that is no longer possible, a dental implant is a great alternative.

Smile More,

Dr. Palomaki



“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


Ben Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the world of teeth, this concept relates to the use of Fluoride to protect you teeth. There are many reasons for adults to have regular fluoride treatment and taking a proactive approach can save your smile as well as your pocketbook in the long run.  Some people fear fluoride as an unnatural health measure. The truth is that fluoride Fluoride can occur in drinking water naturally as a result of the geological composition of soils and bedrock. It's discovery as an anti-cavity agent was discovered when fluoride was over abundant in a local water supply (in Colorado Springs.) Fluoride continues to be dental science's main weapon in the battle against tooth decay. Today, just about every toothpaste on the market contains fluoride as its active ingredient; water fluoridation projects currently benefit over 200 million Americans, and 13 million schoolchildren now participate in school-based fluoride mouth rinse programs.  (source)  



Topical placement of fluoride is needed for people with:

High Caries Risk (3 fillings/cavities or more)

Gum Recession

Sensitive Teeth

Existing crown and bridge work

Dry Mouth (from medications or radiation treatment)

Orthodontics (Braces)

Poor Oral Hygiene (Not flossing daily, not brushing twice daily)

Fluoride treatments are recommended for adult patients with any of the above concerns. You might ask yourself, “Do I really need a fluoride treatment? I thought those were just for my kids.” After all, most insurance plans cover fluoride treatments only up to the age of 18.


Studies have shown topical fluoride applications performed by a dental professional create a significant benefit for adults who have moderate to high risk for cavities.

There are several circumstances that warrant extra fluoride protection among adults. Many prescription medications reduce saliva flow or otherwise create dry mouth. A reduction in saliva increases cavity risk.


Adults often experience gum recession, which exposes part of the root surface of teeth. These areas are softer than the hard enamel at the top of the tooth, which makes them more susceptible to decay.


In addition, adults often get restorative work such as crowns or bridges. Fluoride can help protect the margins of these restorations, ultimately protecting your investment.

Today many people opt for orthodontic treatment (braces) as adults. Braces make it more challenging for patients to maintain good oral hygiene. Just ask your kids! Fluoride can keep the teeth strong and cavity-free even with the obstacle of orthodontic appliances.

Have you had a restoration done within the last year due to new decay? If you have, that puts you at a higher risk for cavities. Fluoride treatments are a great way to prevent more cavities in patients who are already prone to them.

How is that flossing coming along? You know you should floss daily, but do you? If your oral hygiene is not ideal, fluoride could be just the thing to keep your neglect from leading to cavities between your teeth.

Fluoride can also help with the growing problem of sensitive teeth. Diets high in acidic foods and beverages, general gum recession, and increased use of whitening products all tend to produce sensitive teeth. Fluoride treatments re-mineralize tooth enamel and reduce that sensitivity.

Patients who undergo radiation treatment for cancer also benefit from topical fluoride applications. Radiation damages saliva glands, thus greatly reducing the flow of saliva. Saliva acts as a buffer against the foods we eat and beverages we drink. Once again, less saliva greatly increases the risk of cavities.

If you ever have questions on your treatment or on how fluoride might benefit you please let us know. We would be happy to answer your questions.

Smile More,

Dr. P


1 Comment


This post features Q & A's with our hygienists. Proper home care, regular dental visits and education are the cornerstones of healthy smiles.

1 Comment


Why a BLOG?

With the internet and easy access to information I honestly do not know if our blog will bring any new information to the table and we are OK with that.



Best Toothbrush?

First things first, you need to be brushing your teeth twice daily. If you're not, then the toothbrush you are not using will not make a difference! 



Two Minutes Twice Daily

As a dentist, I feel one of the most important things our team can offer is education, from proper hygiene to dental procedures and treatment options.